Just in time for Halloween, a new set of Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures are hitting shelves. The "Monsters and Mutants" series are toys based on the current "Tale" airing on Tales of the TMNT on Nicktoons. For those not up-to-date on the Nickelodeon series, the current series is in its final season, has been re-branded "Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and has moved to the Nicktoons channel. The season is also broken up into longer story arcs. The current, Halloween-themed arc is the "Monsters and Mutants" tale for which these toys have been made. This week, we'll be reviewing each of the "Monster" themed turtles and comparing them alongside their classic counterpart from 1993.
Before getting started into the individual review, I'd first like to say that this entire set is pretty awesome. These are the kinds of Turtle toys that I LOVED when I was a kid. Back in the late 80's, early 90's, Playmates had a ton of sets of, essentially, the turtles "playing dress up." There were cowboys and clowns and army men and magicians and all sorts of crazy stuff and I think that added a lot of the charm and personality to that highly regarded line of classic toys. For the 2012 series, while there have been many variants, there have been only a few lines of toys that give you that tingly nostalgic feeling with just plain silly and fun outfits. That being said, this set of Monster turtles gave me by far the greatest feeling of nostalgia that I've ever felt in this line. Not only are the turtles "playing dress up," but this line is an updated version of a classic line from 1993, where Playmates released a set of turtles dressed as Universal movie monsters. For the updated version, in a very cool way, Playmates has used the same four monsters from the classic line and assigned them to new turtles, giving us something new and yet wonderfully nostalgic. Way to go Playmates, glad to see this line of toys is ending with a real tribute to the classic fans.
That being said, let's go into my review of Frankendon.
Awesome. Just awesome. He has the big Boris Karloff boots, a dull, monster expression, and a bold out if the top of his head. I actually like this better without hair, which rarely look good on the turtles. He’s got stitches everywhere, a cracked plastron and a cool shell with bulbs on it. This figure is really fantastic.
These toys are all articulated to what would be expected for the 2012 TMNT line. You can get a lot of dynamic poses out of them since they are articulated at the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and head.
Colors on Donnie are great. Bright, bold and everything you’d expect to be painted is. Stitches aren’t but I can’t imagine that it would have worked. I especially like the bright blue bulbs on his shell. Additionally, while I'm doing a classic comparison below, I would like to say I really wish these toys glowed in the dark like their predecessors did. I don't know how much that stuff costs and perhaps that would have made it cost prohibitive, but it was such an iconic part of the classic toys, that I wish we'd seen it here.
Just a pretty cool unpainted Bo staff with some gadgety stuff on it. Nothing special, but this Donnie was big in the package, so I’m not surprised he didn’t have anything else.
Long gone are the days of really impressive box art from the Turtles line. The early figures in the late eighties had awesome, individualized cards which were just awesome artwork in and of themselves. Even in the classic line though, that would eventually go away and never return. That being said, Playmates has made a nice effort to create unique card art for each "Tale" this season, from the Monsters and Mutants saga to the Usagi crossover and their Bebop & Rocksteady story. This card features the four brothers in their monster costumes, which is pretty cool.
Despite my overwhelming feelings of nostalgia for the classic toys, which are among my very favorites of the literally hundreds of toys I have from the classic line, I will try to be objective in each of these reviews, which I have decided to do monster-by-monster instead of by character.
I think this one may be the only one of the new line which may outshine its classic counterpart. Granted, he doesn’t glow, but I love everything about this Donnie. His sculpt is great whereas the classic Mikey, which is great, always felt a little awkwardly hunched over which limits his posability. New articulation is pretty much always going to win just because of how these toys are made and colors are pretty even on both, though Donnie has these cool bulbs sticking out of his shell.
Finally, for each of these, I'd like to address the PERSONALITY of the character and their respective monster. For Frankenstein’s monster, I think Donnie is a stronger fit than Mikey. Although Donnie is probably more of a Dr. Frankenstein than Frankenstein’s monster, the association with science works very well with him.
Frankendon is awesome, and I don’t believe that it’s just because I’m a Donnie guy, but I sincerely think he’s the best figure of an excellent line.